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Match Preview: Vancouver Whitecaps host NE Revolution

It’s been a while since these two teams have played, so we caught up with our friends at The Bent Musket to get you up to speed.

SOCCER: JUL 17 MLS - Vancouver Whitecaps at New England Revolution Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On Sunday at BC Place, the Vancouver Whitecaps face the New England Revolution in league play for the first time since 2019.

The last match played between these two teams was actually a pre-season friendly back February of 2020 at Providence Park where the Whitecaps claimed a 2-0 result with goals from Lucas Cavallini and Ali Adnan. In league play, the Revs are undefeated against the Whitecaps in their last three meetings, spanning back to August of 2017.

Evidently, a lot has changed for both teams since that most recent pre-season match. The Revolution had a standout 2021 season, taking home the Supporters Shield, while the Vancouver Whitecaps roster has undergone a significant overhaul, as well as a coaching change.

In order to learn a little bit more about what has been going on with the Revs these past couple of seasons, as well as preview the match up, we chatted with Jake Catanese, Senior Editor at The Bent Musket.

Q: For those not following the Revs closely, the biggest recent story lines from the club have been the significant player departures. How are the Revs dealing with moving on from those players, both in terms of on-pitch results and new acquisitions?

A: Well I hope that most Canada MNT fans know of Tajon Buchanan’s transfer to Club Brugge in Belgium last year as the winger officially joined after the end of the 2021 MLS Season. More recently, Matt Turner had his medical at Arsenal this week and that deal has been all but official between the Revs and the London side since February. Adam Buksa has also departed for FC Lens in France as the Polish international moves back to Europe ahead of the World Cup which will see Poland in Group C.

MLS: Minnesota United FC at New England Revolution Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

In preseason the Revs brought in a trio of LA Galaxy/USMNT veterans that have worked with Bruce Arena before in Sebastian Lletget, Jozy Altidore, and Omar Gonzalez. Lletget has been a regular starter, Jozy has played some minutes but has been working back to full fitness, and Omar has not done all that well when the Revs were extremely thin at centerback early in the year with injuries and heavy schedule congestion with the CCL and he might have even been dropped from a potential late sub/closer role off the bench as well.

SOCCER: APR 16 MLS - Charlotte FC at New England Revolution Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Before the end of the primary MLS transfer window, the Revs did add two names that have had an immediate impact. Colombian attacker/winger Dylan Borrero was signed as a U22 Initiative Player from Brazil’s Atletico Minero and has done very well so far in MLS notching his first goal last week against Minnesota. In net, the Revs acquired Djordje Petrovic from Serbian side Cukaricki where he also played his youth soccer and posted a 20-7-7 record and 18 clean sheets in first full season with Cukaricki and has already notched wins in MLS and the US Open Cup for the Revs. It’s been a busy year for transfers for the usually quiet Revs team especially with three high profile sales to Europe which are the clubs first since Clint Dempsey joined Fulham about 15 years ago but the Revs have been very proactive on the scouting front under Bruce Arena and now have a lot of financial resources to make a few big moves if needed immediately this summer or perhaps a handful of moves with the long term in mind after the World Cup.

SOCCER: JUN 12 MLS - New England Revolution at Sporting Kansas City Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Q: Other than last season where the Revs dominated the league, the club has typically been a fringe playoff team in recent years. Where are the expectations set for this season and how much did last year change how the club views itself?

The Revs history with the MLS Cup is well known and it is still a priority for the Revs to win that accursed trophy and they have a tremendous core still with current DP’s Carles Gil and Gustavo Bou still on the roster and the potential to add a lot more alongside newcomers Borrero and Petrovic and mainstays like Farrell, Jones and Bye. Honestly, the next few years are crucial for the Revs because they have to continue to turn the page of a franchise that prior to hiring Bruce Arena, did not have a strong reputation financially. Being willing to spend but also sell players along with the team’s brand new training ground up in Foxboro could make New England a very attractive location for young players looking to make the eventual jump to Europe. In the short term, with Carles Gil in a single elimination knockout game, the Revs have to be a threat in the playoffs and their current form is rebounding and has them in 6th in the East after a slow start. With a shield already in the trophy cabinet, this is a franchise that should be striving to compete for not just domestic titles but continental ones as well.

Q: Coming into BC Place, what kind of road results have the Revs enjoyed this year, and how do you anticipate Bruce Arena will set up his team for this fixture?

A: The Revs were a mess no matter where they played in the early part of the year with injuries and squad rotation for the CCL hampering their consistency in the first month or so. More recently, the Revs snagged late wins at Cincinnati and Kansas City thanks to goals from Tommy McNamara in the 89th and Ema Boateng in the 87th respectively in those matches. A three game road trip in July to NYCFC, Philadelphia, and Columbus could be the defining stretch of the Revs season that could see them rechallenge at the top of the East or settle into the lower playoff seeds. With New England currently in an eight game unbeaten streak (4W-4D-0L), continuing that form into and through that rough road slate could position themselves very well for the playoffs.

Pumas UNAM v New England - Concacaf Champions League 2022 Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images

This week, the Revs have a specific problem and that is the injury to Matt Polster who is still out with a concussion. The Revs started Tommy Mac and Wilfrid Kaptoum as the two holding mids in the Revs reworked preferred 4-2-3-1 formation. Lletget, Henry Kessler, and Brandon Bye also missed last week’s win against Minnesota and are still listed as questionable so I don’t expect a lot of changes from last week’s lineup which was:

Petrovic; Jones, Bell, Farrell, DeLaGarza; McNamara, Kaptoum; Bou, Gil, Borrero; Altidore

Changes that wouldn’t surprise me would be Bou up top and maybe homegrown Damien Rivera getting a start on the wing. Ryan Spaulding could spell at left back switching DeJuan Jones to right back. Maciel could also start at either of the two holding/center mid spots behind Carles Gil. The Revs did pretty well defensively last week limiting Minnesota to only one great chance via a penalty that the Loons converted. Hopefully the more Borrero gets comfortable and involved the more the Revs offense can begin to click even without Buksa up top.